Of internal surveys and 2016 candidacies
The month of August, for many Filipino politicians and their bankrollers, is typically a tricky month. Also referred to by Filipino-Chinese as the “ghost month,” it's considered an inauspicious time for new beginnings, including a presidential bid.
True enough, since August rolled in, there were no new announcements. Both opposition leader Vice President Jejomar Binay and administration standard-bearer Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II made sure to launch their campaigns earlier in July.
But that doesn’t mean presumptive presidential bets hide under a rock during the month of August. It’s still a crucial month, when actions and strategies are vital to getting good numbers for 3rd quarter presidential preference surveys.
Pulse Asia is expected to release survey results by next week, followed by the Social Weather Stations.
Will a political neophyte continue to leave her veteran contenders scrambling? Will an endorsement from a popular president push a standard-bearer whose numbers are uninspiring, to say the least? Will a former front-runner regain lost percentage points? Or will a “dark horse” candidate from Davao spring a surprise?
We tried asking about various internal surveys being done by several political camps to find out.
The Liberal Party's own internal survey held after President Benigno Aquino III's July 31 endorsement of Roxas supposedly showed the interior secretary trumping Binay, 53% to 37% – should the two square off in a two-way race. We're taking that with a grain of salt because it paints a rather rosy picture for Roxas, who placed either 3rd or 4th in previous preference polls. Besides, at the rate things are going, a two-way race is unlikely.
Binay had earlier laughed off the LP’s one-on-one internal survey, pointing out that the ruling party is “entitled” to “believe in its own lies.” “We have to respect their press release,” quipped the United Nationalist Alliance party chairman.
Insiders said the LP had commissioned at least two surveys held “immediately” after Aquino’s endorsement.
But what if neophyte Senator Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte threw their hats into the ring? What will the new configuration look like?
The same insiders said that as of August at least, Poe was still the clear front-runner, a good distance away from second-placer Binay. One survey put Binay and Roxas at a statistical tie for second and third, while another supposedly showed Roxas and Duterte even-steven.
From the Duterte camp, the rough-talking Davao mayor is No. 2, behind Poe, while Binay and Roxas are at 3rd and 4th, respectively. Could this be why Duterte seems closer to finally announcing a 2016 run?
September will likely see a Poe announcement of her candidacy to be followed by Duterte, notwithstanding all the hemming and hawing
The numbers are fluid, to be sure, and elections are far away. Any political misstep or controversy can be quick to tip the balance in favor of any of the 4 candidates.
Binay, according to other camps, has been on a downward slide. But his camp would say that despite all the mud thrown at him, he has remained No. 2, or at the very least, still ahead of the LP's Roxas.
Internal, commissioned surveys may be seen as inherently “biased” but they serve as a guiding light for parties, providing solid numbers to base their strategies on. After all, what’s the use of paying for a survey if you manipulate it anyway, LP stalwart and Senate President Franklin Drilon pointed out.
“Kung sinasabi ninyo na minaniobra namin iyan, para kaming mga loko fooling ourselves," he said. (If you’re saying we manipulated that, it’s like we’re fools fooling ourselves.)
Pulse Asia is said to be done with groundwork for its August survey, and politicians, pundits, and journalists are eagerly waiting for its results and analysis. SWS should be able to capture a rather interesting blip in Philippine history: a 5-day long protest led by the Iglesia Ni Cristo over the government’s alleged overreach into its internal affairs.
Standstill traffic wasn’t the only thing that drove the noisy Filipino online world crazy – presumptive presidential candidates’ reactions and statements were also dissected and harshly criticized online.
This September will likely see a Poe announcement of her candidacy (if you've been watching closely, all signs point to that). And despite all the hemming and hawing, a Duterte run is also likely to be announced after Poe, perhaps in October.
Sure signs the dreaded ghost month has ended. – Bea Cupin/Rappler.com
Inside Track is Rappler's intelligencer on people, events, places and everything of public interest. It's a take-off from Newsbreak's Inside Track section. Contributions are most welcome. Just send bits of information to firstname.lastname@example.org.